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Waverley slams carbon footprint labels

Published:  23 July, 2008

Waverley TBS is calling for the wine industry to embrace environment-friendly working methods

The company is to issue its some 300 suppliers worldwide with voluntary recommendations on how to produce wine responsibly.

Owen Bird, Waverley senior wine maker, said he will urge the suppliers to embrace a full environment management system (EMS) that will look at the impact of making and distributing wine on the environement; as well as a carbon footprint standard label.

He told Harpers at the London International Wine and Spirit Fair (LIWSF) that just embracing a 'carbon footprint' symbol on wine labels is "superficial but easy to communicate."

He criticised Landcare New Zealand's approach with its CarbonNZero system: "Effectively as a NZ winery, can have as high Co2 emissions as you like and still achieve CarbonNZero if you pay a certified farmer to plant more trees."

He, however, highlighted Yalumba Australian winery as having the right approach with its EMS system. The system takes into account use of land, the product and produced waste.

"Suppliers have choices," he said. "They can do the job properly and risk being punished because consumers won't understand it or they can do little with the carbon footprint and win lots of consumers."

Mark Barthel, Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) special advisor retail and innovation, said: "Carbon Trust in the UK is in its first year of researching the correct carbon labelling.

"It will never allow suppliers to be certified if they are not really reducing their carbon footprints, as part of the making and distributing of the product. That would ruin their credibility.

"The way forward, I think, is to produce a consistent internationally recognised standard that consumers can understand. Anything else will confuse them."